Skip to main content
11:00 pm
11:01 pm
11:02 pm
up next on a second look, remembering the tet offensive and the turning of the tide on american turning opinion about the war in vietnam. plus the fall of saigone, a bay area reporter remembers. >> and they headed back to the land of their birth 30 years later. all straight ahead on a second look. good evening and welcome to a second look. i'm julie haener. this month vietnamese communities around the world including here in the bay area will mark the lunar new year with a celebration called tet. in 1968, tet took on another meaning as forces from north vietnam took advantage of a seize fire to spring surprise
11:03 pm
attacks. it became known as the tet offensive. the coordinated attack resulted in heavy military losses for the north but gave them a huge psychological victory beginning a shift in public opinion here in the united states against the war. here's ktvu's george watson with a look back at the tet offensive and san francisco that same year. >> in 1968 it became painfully obvious that vietnam was not a war we were going to win. the whole affair seemed in couch cover up phrases like the odd of the fire. it was a war like no other yet like every other war. young men fighting, leading and dying. yet vietnam was vastly different in another respect. it came home every night on the 6:00 news. man's inhumanity to man. constant and up close and
11:04 pm
personal. cong led the tet offensive blitzing. >> the biggest fact is the states purposes of the general uprising a military victory or psychological victory have failed. >> reporter: two months later vietnam claimed america's highest office. lyndon johnson was going away. he had not won and would not win. >> i shall not seek and will not accept the nomination from my party for another term as president. >> reporter: just a fraction of the carnage that was yet to come. yet america's military leaders still insisted they were in control and that the war was
11:05 pm
going well. fanning the flames of protest back home even more. on an august visit to san francisco's precido, westmoreland was still optimistic even after the tet offensive six months earlier. >> i do not give the military, and if he attacks again he will suffer terrible casualties as he did in tet and adds he did in may when he attempted to make headlines in order to influence public opinion. >> reporter: in 1968 the enterprise sailed home from vietnam, with families reunited the war seemed way off. the war was still a steak driven between them and their country. the war would not end until seven years. that is segment two for
11:06 pm
tonight. when saigon fell it created refugees. known as boat people they overcame grueling conditions on their search for safety. >> reporter: the refugees had been at sea for about 10 days before they were spotted by the british ship. the vietnamese about 54 in number were said to be in comparatively good health and showing few ill effects despite their grueling effects at sea. the boat people huddled in their family groups waiting patiently on deck while their dutch rescuers carried out routine medical checks on their newfound passengers. with the ship's doctor paying particular attention to the women and children.
11:07 pm
about a million refugees have fled vietnam in the decades of the fall of saigon. between 1,500 and 2,000 a month still brave the south china sea with its risks of pirates, thirst, hunger and rough seas. it's believed 250,000 of them have died in their desperate attempt for a new life. the same night ktvu brought you that report we had news of a different sort about a former boat person here in the bay area. here's elane corral in 1976. >> reporter: 35-year-old chong hit $1 million in the state lottery today. >> $1 million, a million dollars. >> reporter: chong told lottery officials he's applying for american citizenship. chon fled vietnam. they boarded a small boat for seven days. chong now works as an auto
11:08 pm
mechanic. he says he plans to use his winnings to buy a home and put the rest in the bank and hopes to have his own auto shop one day. they held a reunion at camp pendelton where they had first lived. >> reporter: they returned to southern california back to where their lives began. then they called it little saigon a temporary city for those fleeing saigon. >> what you have taken from your departure here at camp pendelton and done the wonderful things you've been able to do is a pride for us marines who were involved in your beginning in this country. >> reporter: they ate, they celebrated and they found lost friends. the only reminder of the tent
11:09 pm
city where they found their first home in america is the hand of s culpture. none of them complained about their new homeland however none of them hesitated when asked if they would go back to vietnam. this man was 10 years old when brought to camp pendelton in 1975. he has since became a u.s. marine in hopes he will one day go home to help liberate his country. >> being a marine is the first -- i was hoping i could go back to vietnam in battle one day. >> do you miss vietnam? >> yes i do. >> reporter: why? >> my childhood over there. because i spent 10 years of my childhood there. and it was a lot of fun. >> reporter: debra shaw reporting in san diego. still to come on a second look -- >> we had no idea that it would
11:10 pm
end up like this we didn't know where they were going. who was going to adopt them. >> reporter: rescued from vietnam at the end of the war and adopted in america and other countries. 30 years later they return to the land of their birth. and a bay area reporter remembers the day saigon fell and what it took for him to get out safely.
11:11 pm
11:12 pm
tonight on a second look we revisit the vietnam war and the fall out for those who were there when saigon fell to communist forces from new york. among them dozens of children who became part of a frantic baby lift to get them out of vietnam and to the united states and other countries where they could be adopted. in 2005, janine de la vega met some of those children now grown up as they headed back to vietnam. >> they waited anxiously inside a hanger at oakland airport this morning wondering what to
11:13 pm
expect. many years have passed since an airplane arrived. now as adults 21 of them are heading back to their former homeland, some for the first time. >> i've been looking forward to this trip since i found out about it but i had no idea of the magnitude of this anniversary. >> reporter: 30 years ago, they started operation baby lift to bring back orphans to bring back babies. >> the babies were so small they were in boxes. >> reporter: the crews brought as many children as possible. >> they took $100 bill out of his pocket and triped to change
11:14 pm
the officers mind about you know letting us go. >> reporter: the police refused and daily tore that $100 bill on half and gave it to the boys. two weeks later the airline came back for true and hundreds more. >> we had no idea that it would end up like this. we didn't know where they were going, who was going to adopt them. what their life was going to be like. they had nothing. >> reporter: but homes were found for all the orphans and now they're headed back to vietnam. some with their adoptive parents. >> i'm proud to be a part of it for one thing. and it's -- we're very close but this is a final, not final but a bonding that could not ever have happened if this had not happened. >> this is our first homecoming. >> reporter: the airways even repainted this plane to make it look like it looked back in 1975 making it more nostalgic
11:15 pm
for people here. >> the trip remained personally a bonus and meeting all the people that saved our lives is the reason why i'm here and i do want to go back and see my beginnings. >> reporter: the adoptives will arrive and spend the rest of the week touring, visiting orphanages and having dinner at the unification palace. >> for those who fought in the vietnam war and for those who covered it as journalists it was an experience that helped shape their lives. one of those reporters was ken kashuahara a bay area resident. lloyd lacuesta traveled with kashuahara back to vietnam 13 years after the fall of saigon. >> reporter: vietnam now is a pleasure for those who's vivid memories here was a war. >> my first impression was peace has broken out all over
11:16 pm
the country. that because when we were here before, you always had to worry who was going to shoot at you and from where. you always had that concern when you look at trees and buildings that you were going into the middle of a fire fight. now when you drive all over the country, it's very peaceful. and it's very nice to see. >> reporter: the vietnam government is trying to promote tourism as another way out of the economic mess the country is in. hochimin city may appear to be flourishing but it's deceiving. one family and three in the family of 3 million has relatives overseas. and that link is responsible for $200 million blowing -- flowing back into this country. if not vietnam might fall deeper into collapse. the old american embassy a building which would be a
11:17 pm
tourist landmark for americans. the building is empty, the grass dead but the memories here are still very much alive. the embassy was a scene of desperate departures as saigon fell to the communists. u.s. marines either helped people get over the walls or kicked them down. it's funny what you think about in times like that but i thought what can i say to the marine to let him know that i'm an american. so i decided in the spur of the moment that i would say to him was the dodgers won the pennant. why i thought of that i have no idea. we got up to the wall and he obviously knew i was an american and pull -- and
11:18 pm
pulled me over and we went. >> for those of us who were here either during the war or toward the end which was a very historic moment leaving the way we did. i think are sort of obsessed with vietnam, at least obsessed wanting to come back now to see what it's like. when we come back on a second look remembering those who fought in the vietnam war. >> and a bit later marking the anniversary of the fall of saigon among one of the largest vietnamese communities right here in the bay area. well, well, well.
11:19 pm
growing up, we didn't have u-verse. we couldn't record four shows at the same time. in my day, you were lucky if you could record two shows. and if mom was recording her dumb show
11:20 pm
and dad was recording his dumb show then, by george, that's all we watched. and we liked it! today's kids got it so good. [ male announcer ] get u-verse tv for just $19 a month for 1 year when you bundle tv and internet. rethink possible. in 1975 after a war that stretched over a decade and a half, the united states pulled out of vietnam. it was anything but an orderly withdraw. television news was filled with scenes of chaos as american helicopters air lifted thousands from the ground of
11:21 pm
the american embassy. in 1985 on the 20th anniversary of that fall, ktvu's diane wired showed us how people marked the day in vietnam. >> reporter: the fireworks display sunday night capped off several days of celebration in vietnam. 20 years ago today communists tanked rolled down the street of them saigon ending the war and reuniting the country. more than 100,000 soldiers, students and children paraded down those same streets carrying flowers and balloons. many also left flowers at the base of the monument in tribute to the late communist leader. >> today i participated to the celebrations of the 30th victory. i feel very happy. and deeply touched particularly when i have the opportunity to meet my old friend but i also remember a lot of my friend who had devoted their lives to the
11:22 pm
country. >> reporter: 3 million vietnamese soldiers and civilians died in the war. this celebration commemorates the north vietnamese and its allies the united states. the u.s. role in the war was never mentioned but many vietnam veterans from the united states came back for the celebration. >> when i look around it's just so clear. there never should have been a war here, never, never. and now that we have you know the architect of the war in america, macknamara confessing it never should have happenedded. hopefully the american people will come to understand that the people here have been the victims. >> reporter: one of the scenes from this day 20 years ago that will never be forgotten is the imagine of the last u.s. marine
11:23 pm
helicopter lifting off the roof of the u.s. embassy. in all 5,000 men, women and children were evacuated from the embassy grounds during the final 18 hours. but many south vietnamese supporters of the unite were left behind. the war also left behind many wound. berkeley activist susan griffin protested against the war then and she says the u.s. still hasn't learned from its mistakes. >> what i'm angry at now is how much effort there is to bury that past. and to deny it to deny the truth of it. >> in 1998, ktvu's rob roth visited the memorial in sacramento dedicated to californians who died in vietnam. >> reporter: there were no special ceremonies today here at the california vietnam memorial in sacramento. there were no speeches or a
11:24 pm
lone bugle to play taps. but thousands came to remember those who died in vietnam. along the 6,200 is vincent ramirez. >> he used to patrol for mines in the rivers. and he was missing in action for about three months but then they told us they found him and we had services. >> reporter: few of the people here realized it will soon be 25 years since the fall of saigon. since the u.s. pulled out of vietnam. after years of -- at home, and since saigon was freed. >> he was going to be a doctor. he was just a good guy. we went and did a lot of stuff together. we snuck off campus and did all the goofy things you do.
11:25 pm
and he didn't have to go in, he didn't have to go to the army but he did it because he felt it was something he had to have done. that's when it really hit home. it was pretty new in the country. that's when you realize things -- life is pretty shallow. it was like a wake up call i guess. >> it was difficult for those who were in vietnam to explain what it was like to those who weren't. today many people brought their children here so that perhaps they could understand the war at least on an emotional level. they pointed the ages of many of the dead, 18, 19, 20. many people here still recall hearing the news that someone in their hometown died in vietnam. this woman says all of the grass valley mourned its first casualty gary miller and later her school friend douglas ricks. >> he was just a little freckled face, really cute
11:26 pm
little kid who lived a couple of doors up from us. and i felt really sad when i heard he had been killed. just 24 years old. >> there's a lot of loyalty among the vietnam vets and the people who knew them. it's a war that needs to be remembered. the vets need to be remembered. when we come back on a second look. the south bay vietnamese community remembers the fall of saigon.
11:27 pm
11:28 pm
the 2010 census shows 1.5 million people in the united states identify themselves as vietnamese. the great majority came to the united states after the north vietnamese overran the south in 1975 or are the descendants of those who did. san jose has the nation's second largest vietnamese american community. in 2000, ktvu's diane derossi were there as they marked the
11:29 pm
anniversary of the fall of saigon. >> reporter: today this is the city of thousands of stories about how lives changed. yu phan is an optometrist but when saigon fell she was a frightened 9-year-old. >> as a kid, you only remember that there's a lot of people running down the street. you know something is wrong but you don't realize what. i just got on a boat with my family. >> reporter: she and 50 of her relatives cram on to a 20-foot boat. >> it was a very scary night. every five to 10 minutes my dad would constantly check on me. i was wrapped under a blanket and there would be shootings from the different areas around the port. >> reporter: among all the commemorative events

Second Look
FOX February 10, 2013 11:00pm-11:30pm PST

News/Business. Highlights of past news stories. (CC)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Saigon 14, Vietnam 6, U.s. 6, Ktvu 5, America 5, United States 4, Us 3, Pendelton 3, San Francisco 2, Sacramento 2, Lloyd Lacuesta 1, Diane Derossi 1, Happenedded 1, Southern California 1, Culpture 1, Douglas Ricks 1, Gary Miller 1, Julie Haener 1, Janine De La Vega 1, Debra Shaw 1
Network FOX
Duration 00:30:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 13 (213 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 2/11/2013